Grambling, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Grambling State's football players, whose university forfeited a conference game this past Saturday, agreed to end a six- day walkout and finish their season, beginning with a practice on Monday.
The Tigers players walked out of a contentious meeting with administration following last Tuesday's practice and hadn't practiced or played since then, listing greviences over the state of the winless football program. They forfeited a scheduled Southwestern Athletic Conference game at Jackson State this past Saturday, which could draw a conference fine for the school.
Senior defensive back Naquan Smith, flanked by all of his teammates, read a statement from the players while standing outside the Eddie Robinson Museum on campus Monday afternoon. He said the team was ready to practice again because they believe some of their recent complaints would be addressed by the university.
The players were unhappy over the firing of head coach Doug Williams in September, while also saying their travel by bus to some road games was over excessive distances and that they have been subjected to unhealthy, dangerous facilities.
Defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston was named the team's interim head coach last week, following the firing of George Ragsdale, who replaced Williams.
The Tigers are scheduled to host Texas Southern in a SWAC game on Saturday.
"As part of the athletic program at Grambling State University, the football team took a stance on what we thought was right," the players' statement said. "We did not quit on our university. There are many problems that exist and if no one says anything, nothing will come of our institution. We hope Coach Eddie Robinson and his legendary players can appreciate that we stood up for what we thought was right.
"After coming into contact with different sources, we decided to reach out to the one person we trusted, Coach Doug Williams, with our concerns. His main statement to us was, 'Go out there and play football.' He also put us in contact with Jim Bernhard out of Baton Rouge. A meeting was held with Mr. Bernhard as well as Douglas Porter, Ezil Bibbs, Roy Jackson, Henry Dyer and Howard Davis. The meeting confirmed him (Bernhard) as being committed with our best intentions at heart and that he would ensure we had updated facilities, but we had to agree to being back practicing Monday, October 21 and finish the remainder of our season.
"Although we are going to continue our season, we have not forgotten the situation and how we've gotten here. We would like to say thank you to Coach Williams, the Legends and Mr. Jim Bernhard. Grambling has given us the opportunity to be a part of its legacy and we are only looking to improve conditions for the university and future student-athletes."
Grambling has an 0-8 record. It finished 1-10 last year after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship under Williams in 2011.